Education for poor urban dwellers
From 2006-2020, CORE supported, financially and technically, SOUP (Society for the Urban Poor) to operate from one to three School Preparation Centres and After School Programs offering school preparation classes for kids whose parents were too poor to send them to school, Scholarships, and After School tuition classes. The students study for nine months in preparation to enter the government school system. The students range in age, but few had an opportunity to attend school previously. As of 2019, 716 children have attended the three centres that we funded since 2006.
Successful Child Centre Graduates and Scholarships: After ten months, the kids could write an exam to determine in which class they could start school. The ‘graduates’ of the centre could get scholarships through CORE or SOUP to attend schools nearby. All three past and current centres sent batches of kids to start school every April. Each year, batches of kids ‘graduate’ from the centres to start school on scholarships. In total we supported 303 students, 55 of whom have graduated from school. A factor in their success is the tutoring and Friday afternoon mentoring sessions.
We liked to think of our programs as helping families – both the children and the parents, often a single mother.
“The students all live in very difficult situations. Most families squeeze into one room… often with lots of drinking and domestic violence. We do tuition five days a week and one day do counselling and extra activities. The change that I see in the students is that they are very eager to continue their studies so much fewer dropout. They are learning to deal with their problems in a positive way and help the younger, newer students.” Kshitija Shrestha, Facilitator.
“I am Anjana Basnet, 19 years old. When I was 8 years, I started going to school (on a scholarship). Now I am in class 11 studying Business Management. I also work part time as a waiter. In the future, I want to be a businesswoman. I am very grateful for this scholarship and I am happy because other needy children like me are still getting this opportunity.”
Laxman, 12, says, “My grades are better after coming here. I also study at home. My parents are happy sending me here. I will do better in my next exam. I want to thank everybody who is helping me.”
Kanchi Nepali from Gorkha district has four children. Kanchi says, “My husband works as a labourer in the vegetable market and I am a sweeper. We are not able to give our children a good education. My other three children also studied here before going to school. This education program has helped parents like me who cannot pay expensive fees in school. After studying here, my daughter went to government school with a scholarship from CORE. My son is doing well here. He makes drawings and has learned good manners.”
Menuka, 16, is in class 8. She joined the After School Class supported by CORE 3 years ago. Then, she had no interest in her studies. Since coming here, she also loves dancing, drawing, singing and acting. She now has confidence to speak in front of the class. “I have learned to respect elders. I can teach others what I have learned in the class. My teachers say that I am doing better than before. The extra classes help me to forget home. I can share my problems with the facilitators. They try to solve them. The two hours here is the best time of the day. I feel safe and happy here.”
A Hand Up: Saving and credit for poor urban migrants
“There is happiness in our hearts. We feel that we have crossed the poverty line. Compared to before it is good now. We have our own business. It has opened our gate for the future.”
“My knowledge regarding monetary matters has increased. In short, my life has become easier after becoming involved in the saving and credit group.”
“Saving has changed my life a lot. My business is going well. I have formed a habit of saving. It was a good experience. I got good support.”
Our HAND UP program has been wrapped up after its tenth year. CORE and SOUP designed the program to find a way to help the poorest women be able to save money. By adapting to the situation of the women, we have shown how this can be done.
With SOUP, we decided in 2017 that the time had come to start phasing out of support to these two groups by creating a ‘safe landing’ for the 419 group members. As well, new laws in Nepal meant that this work can now only be done by financial cooperatives.
The achievements are many. Hundreds of women have learned to save money. Several have gone from sorting garbage to having teashops or canteens, from selling from a basket to selling from a shop. If they had a teashop, they improved the facilities, attracting more customers. The family relationships have often improved with the wife having her own money.
A Hand Up for over 400 women in rural areas
In small towns near Kathmandu, CORE supported 2 -3 courses per year to provide weekly training in organic vegetable growing and mentoring to women groups to grow vegetables organically for their families and to sell to improve livelihoods. The vegetable classes ran once a week for 17 weeks, so that there was lots of practical training as the plants actually grew in the fields. The women are enthusiastic as they harvest the vegetables. All of them have also planted vegetables at their homes. as of 2019, we have now supported 14 groups with a total of about 447 women. About 370 continue to grow vegetables for their household use. This saves them money and usually provides a surplus of vegetables that they can sell for some income.
Prior to 2017
Capacity Building for Social Development: CORE provided funding for training programs with small organizations that had not had such training previously to teach these groups how to apply for grants and resources available from government and agencies. We also supported training to build the skills of the facilitators and staff of other small organizations. For example, in January 2015, CORE sponsored a training for the Namche Women Group to assess their needs and learn how to apply for the local government grants available to women groups. The next year, the group was successful in obtain a grant to support their activities from the local government body.
Uterus Prolapse – Awareness Clinic and Health Project: Supported an education and identification project for Nepali women suffering from the distressing and painful condition of uterine prolapse.
Scholarships and Vocational Training for Widows and Children: Provided educational and vocational scholarships for the children of widows and for young widows to learn skills to earn a living.
Training for Teen-aged Workers: Supported training in English language and employment skills for teen-aged porters and hotel workers at the start of the Everest trek. They were mostly very poor youth from lower areas of Nepal.
Literacy and Awareness for Remote Women: Supported operating costs of literacy classes aimed at empowering women in remote districts, who face severe discrimination during their reproductive cycle and childbirth.
Rural Community Support: Support to Shree Fashelung Community Service (FSS) group in Dolakha district assisted residents by providing hygiene and sanitation kits to every family (1,250) to prevent the spread of disease soon after the earthquake. In Kathmandu, CORE purchased items for the kits including soap, buckets, and towels. Through FSS, we provided ‘new mother packages’ to the local women’s group to distribute and a small fund to help pregnant women get health care at this very vulnerable time.
During the winter after the earthquake, CORE raised funds to facilitate independent youth groups distribution of blankets to families in dire need having lost everything in the disaster. We helped over 4,400 households.